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Shared Research Project - Flammable Mists

Generation of Flammable Mists from High Flashpoint Fluids

"There is a pressing need for clear guidance on mist hazards to allow operators to determine the extent of areas where flammable mists may be present and to select appropriate equipment for use in those areas".

It is well-known that mists of high-flashpoint fluids such as hydraulic oils, Flammable mistlubricating oils, diesel and heavier fuels can ignite a produce explosions at temperatures below their flashpoints. A review in 2009 identified 37 historical ignition incidents involving flammable mists, including 20 explosions of which nine were collectively responsible for a total of 29 fatalities. Nevertheless, both fire and explosion cause dangers to workers, and in many cases the precautions required to prevent an ignition are the same.

At present, Hazardous Area Classification (HAC) for explosive gas atmospheres is well established. However, although there is a legal requirement to consider flammable mists, the current guidance on mist hazards is limited, brief and largely qualitative.

To address this issue, a project on the formation and mitigation of flammable mists was initiated by HSE in December 2011 and jointly sponsored by 16 industry and regulatory partners. This project represented a major step forward in the understanding of this phenomenon, but our knowledge of flammable mists remains limited. HSE has now agreed in principle to support a follow-on project under its new Shared Research Programme. A scoping workshop with key industry stakeholders was held on 24th March at HSE's Laboratory, where the current knowledge gaps and remaining research questions were identified.

As a result, an outline proposal for a programme of joint research has now been produced. This briefly describes each of the proposed work packages and provides an estimate of the resource required to deliver the programme. HSE will be supporting the project financially; we are now seeking support from industrial sponsors.

The final programme and the levels of investment required from each sponsor will depend on the strength of support for this work. Please review the proposal and share your thoughts with us on whether you and your organisation would be interested in participating.

For more information, or to express your interest in sponsoring the work,
please contact Dr Paul Grant on +44 (0)203 028 2142 or email

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